Guwahati, July 5: The Gauhati High Court has slammed the Mizoram government for its fresh COVID-19 related Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) and said that the restrictions imposed by the Mizoram government on movement and work of the unvaccinated people are arbitrary and violation of the Constitution of India.
A division bench of the Aizwal bench of Gauhati High Court comprising Justice Michael Zothankhum and Justice Nelson Sailo on Friday passed the order by hearing a petition filed against the COVID-19 SOP issued by the Mizoram government on June 29.
The Gauhati High Court said in its order that – “The restrictions placed upon unvaccinated individuals vis-à-vis vaccinated individuals in terms of Clause 5(2), 6(1), 6(5), Serial No. 31 & 42 of Annexure-3 of the SOP dated 29.06.2021 are arbitrary and not in consonance with the provisions of Article 14,19 & 21 of the Constitution.”
“A restriction cannot be arbitrary or of a nature that goes beyond the requirement of the interest of the general public. Though no general pattern or a fixed principle can be laid down so as to be universal in application, as conditions may vary from case to case, keeping in view the prevailing conditions and surroundings circumstances, the requirement of Article 19(6) of the Constitution is that the restriction has to be made in the form of law and not by way of an executive instruction. The preamble of the Act clearly states that it is an Act to provide effective management of the disasters and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto. There is nothing discernible in the Act, to show that the said Act has been made for imposing any restriction on the exercise of the rights conferred by Article 19 of the Constitution,” the High Court said in its order.
The Mizoram government on June 29 had issued a fresh COVID-19 SOP and said that – “In case of compelling circumstances, only vaccinated individuals of the family members may be detailed for errands within and around localities having significant COVID-19 active cases.”
The SOP of the Mizoram government also stated that – “Only vaccinated individuals should be engaged for manning shops and stores or undertaking any works. Shop/stores attendants and other employees should be able to produce proof of vaccination, which will be regularly checked by the police/LLTF/VLTF/COVID-19 executive duty.”
The High Court observed that the submission made by the learned Additional Advocate General clearly shows that 33% of the targeted persons are still to be vaccinated.
“There can be any number of reasons for a person to leave their house, for example, it could be for the purpose of procuring essential supplies, like food-stuff, medicines, attending to their near and dear/sick ones etc. However, the said clause has virtually put them under house arrest in violation of Article 21 of the Constitution of India, while persons who have been given the first dose of vaccine are allowed to leave their houses/compounds. Thus, on the ground of discrimination alone, Clause 5(2) is arbitrary,” the Aizawl bench of the Gauhati High Court said in its order.
“The said impugned clauses are interfered with, to the extent that the allowances available and given to vaccinated persons in the above clauses shall also be made equally applicable to unvaccinated persons,” said in the order.
The Guwahati High Court directed the Mizoram state respondents to issue a corrigendum of the SOP dated 29.06.2021 at the earliest incorporating the above directions.
July 14 has been fixed as the next date of hearing in the case. Mizoram on Sunday had reported 243 new COVID-19 cases including 59 children infected with the Coronavirus.